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 Annual 2007

Annual 2007


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Overcoming the Epidemic

    There are hundreds of weight-loss programs, and East Bay resident Mary Tate tried just about all of them—Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, the Zone and Atkins, among many, many others. Tate repeatedly found success in losing weight, but it was usually fleeting.

    “I’ve always had issues with weight and tried all the programs. I could lose the weight, but I just could not keep it off,” says Tate. She was 130 pounds overweight when she turned to a weight-reduction surgery called Duodenal Switch, a laparoscopic procedure offered by Pacific Laparoscopy in San Francisco, one of two Northern California facilities dedicated to the surgical treatment of morbid obesity.

    Barbara Metcalf, the program director for Pacific Laparoscopy, notes that for many people, the surgery is life saving: “Many of our patients have successfully lost 100 pounds many times, only to regain it—and sometimes more—within three years.”

    As there are many weight-loss programs, there are many weight-reduction surgeries, Metcalf says. “It’s important for people to do the research to determine what is the best choice for them, whether it is a weight-loss program or surgery.”

    Obesity is a serious medical disease that is growing at an alarming rate. The condition of being significantly overweight, or obese, is defined as having a body mass index, or BMI, of 30.0 or greater, or about 30 pounds or more over ideal body weight. Extreme, or morbid, obesity is defined as a BMI of 40.0 or more. BMI is a mathematical calculation used to determine whether a person is overweight. Being obese and being overweight are not the same condition. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese, and a BMI between 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight.

    According to the American Obesity Association, 64.5 percent of adult Americans (about 127 million) are categorized as being overweight or obese. Closer to home, a report from the California Department of Health Services reports California residents have gained 360 million pounds of excess weight in the past 10 years, a rate that is among the fastest occurring in the country. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death after smoking. Obesity creates additional health conditions, increasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and many sleep disorders.

    This report also indicates that in the last 20 years, overweight levels have doubled in children and tripled in teens nationally, with 22 percent of California children and teens overweight. These problems are often the results of an inactive lifestyle, cheap, high-caloric fast food and genetics. Most alarming is that between 40 percent and 80 percent of overweight children will become overweight adults.

    But the news doesn’t have to be so depressing. There are ways to combat obesity and maintain a healthy lifestyle for both children and adults. Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland has instituted the Healthy Eating Active Living Program with a mission to educate the community on ways to prevent childhood obesity that includes an established clinic.

    “It’s a multidisciplinary clinic where we work with children who are overweight or at risk and their families,” says Dr. Lydia Tinajero-Deck, co-director of the HEAL Program. “We are working to help educate both pediatricians and families gain understanding and knowledge about nutrition and the need to be less sedentary and more active.”

    Critical to overcoming obesity is following a healthy living plan that includes healthy eating, exercise and general good health choices. For Mary Tate, it has made a world of difference in her post-surgery life and helps keep her on track in getting down to her goal weight.

    “I wake up feeling great. I have so much more energy and never think twice about running up the stairs,” she says. “That’s something I would have never considered before.” ✚ Edit Module